With late seasonal foliage, cozy wineries, and few crowds, winter is the perfect time to visit and show your love for Wine Country.
In the aftermath of the Northern California fires, images of the destruction have deterred visitors to the area. But locals who work in the region want the world to know that Wine Country is still open for business—and it's as gorgeous as ever.
To see for ourselves, we got a bird's eye view during a sunrise hot air balloon ride. And up high in the sky, as we soared over the valley, we could see few signs of fire damage. Instead, crimson foliage flourished on the vines, the rolling hills were lush with green thanks to a recent rainfall, and we held our breath as we took in the views all the way to San Francisco. Follow our expedition in the sky.
The journey began at 6:45am at Napa Valley Balloons. It was a calm and crisp December morning, perfect for flying, and we had the chance to see the inflation process from start to finish. To start, the crew used a powerful fan to blow air into the balloon.
// A standard hot air balloon package includes pre-flight coffee, tea and pastries, one hour in the sky, and a post-flight breakfast at Domaine Chandon Winery. Tickets ($239) are available at Napa Valley Balloons.